WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2018 —
It is a sign of America’s disconnect with its military that there are those who believe that when a person joins the military, that person cannot have a spouse or children or pets, said Amber Smith, the deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for outreach.
This misperception may be extreme, but there are others and it’s one reason why DoD is launching an outreach program on Feb. 1 called “This Is Your Military.” The program is designed “to inform and educate the American public on who is serving in the military today,” Smith said during a Pentagon news conference today.
Less than 1 percent of Americans serve in the military and the number of Americans with firsthand experience with service members or veterans has declined precipitously since the beginning of the all-volunteer military in 1973.
‘A Force for Good’
“We want to show [Americans] how the military is relevant to their everyday lives; we want to show how innovative the military is and how we are a force for good,” she said.
The initiative will highlight the lives of those serve and give a balanced view of military service and life, said Smith, noting the initiative will be primarily a digital program.
Smith said she wants to reach out to people who know little about the military. The department already has a robust social media presence and she expects to use that to get the information, articles, videos, tweets and more to the 99 percent of Americans who haven’t served in the armed forces.
“We are working very closely with the services and some of the programs that they have in place that reach all the way to the installation and community level programs that have been successful,” she said.
Some of the community level programs she hopes to piggyback on include Fleet Week, Marine Week and Know Your Army.
“It has always been in the best interests of DoD to engage with the American public,” Smith said.
Recent surveys demonstrate the divide between the military and the public it serves is growing. This disconnect “threatens the viability and sustainability of the all-volunteer force, which does pose some long-term national security risks,” Smith said. In 1995, 40 percent of young adults had a direct connection to a service member or a veteran in their families. Today, it is around 15 percent.
Correcting some of the misperceptions will be one part of the Know Your Military initiative, she said. One of the most pernicious is the majority of American youth think if a person serves in the military a person will leave with a physical, psychological or emotional issue.
Each month the initiative will have a different theme, and when it starts on Thursday the theme will be We Are Connected. The website for the initiative is knowyourmilitary.osd.mil. The hashtag is #KnowYourMil.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)